There is no worse feeling than not being able to turn your steering wheel quickly when it is needed. You depend on the power steering system of your vehicle to provide you with a smooth steering ability. If this ability is ever compromised, it could potentially lead to an accident. Whenever it feels hard to turn your steering wheel, do not let the problem go unchecked. You should immediately take your vehicle to the nearest mechanic and have them fix whatever is causing the problem. Then you can remain safe on the road as well as ensure the safety of other drivers on the road too.
7 Common Causes
When the steering wheel is hard to turn, it will feel like the wheel is moving slowly. You’ll end up having to use a lot of upper arm strength just to make one complete rotation of the wheel. Sometimes the steering wheel will stick entirely, and you may not be able to move it any further. This could cause serious injuries or death if you’re not careful. Therefore, go through the list of possible causes and see if you can self-diagnose how this happened.
Below are the top 7 causes of a car steering wheel that is hard to turn.
1. Thick Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid is what lubricates the components of your power steering system. After a while, this fluid gathers a lot of debris and dirt as it flows through the components. These dirty elements cause the fluid to thicken. Once that happens, the flow of the power steering fluid is restricted. This makes it difficult for the fluid to thoroughly lubricate the system’s components. As a result, the steering wheel will not turn so easily anymore.
2. Low Tire Pressure
It may seem strange that low tire pressure can affect your steering ability, but it can. Since your tires are the only parts of the vehicle which touch the road, they need to have the right amount of air pressure in all of them. If you have one or more tires that are deflated or have low air pressure, it will create an imbalance in the tires as you’re driving and turning. In a front-wheel drive vehicle, this may cause the vehicle to pull more to the left or right as you turn the steering wheel.
3. Leaky Power Steering Fluid
As bad as it is to have thick power steering fluid, you don’t want to have leaky power steering fluid either. This may happen if the pressurized hose of the power steering system were to get loose or damaged. If this fluid does leak out, then the power steering system won’t receive enough fluid to lubricate its components. With less fluid pressure, the result will be more difficulty steering the wheel.
4. Damaged Serpentine Belt
The serpentine belt must stay strong if the steering wheel is going to turn smoothly. If you ever notice any stiffness as you attempt to turn the wheel, then you may have a damaged serpentine belt. Sometimes these belts will crack or snap completely after they’ve been used for years. When you confirm this has happened to your serpentine belt, you need to replace it immediately. Otherwise, your vehicle will be undrivable until you do.
5. Flat Tire Treads
Tire treads are another tire problem that can make it difficult to turn the steering wheel. You need good treads to grip the road and make turning feel smooth and easy. But if you’ve driven on the same tires for years, their treads will become flat. This causes a lot of jerkiness as you drive and difficulties with turning the steering wheel.
6. Bad Steering Rack
This problem has specific symptom, you just feel it’s hard to turn the steering wheel at the first time you turn it. As your engine get warm and the steering fluid has lubricating the rack ant other steering system, your steering wheel seem normal. But it’s not normal at all. You still have to make your steering rack checked. The steering rack is series of joints and shafts that connected the rack and the steering wheel. The rack should be replaced as soon as possible when it has turn bad otherwise you will get more trouble.
7. Bad Steering Pump
Another important part of the steering system is pump. This part will injecting the air and fluid needed as you turn your steering wheel. Your steering wheel become stiff if the pump doesn’t work properly. Your mechanics could simply fix the pump for the minor problem or replace it if necessary. Again, regular check is the best way to avoid more damage.